Amy Coney Barrett Should Recuse Herself From Gay Rights Case, Say Survivors of Her Cultish Religious Group

“I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside,” said one former member.

Amy Coney Barrett Should Recuse Herself From Gay Rights Case, Say Survivors of Her Cultish Religious Group
Photo:AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes (AP)

Oral arguments in what’s being deemed a potential “free speech blockbuster” case won’t begin until next month, but survivors of People of Praise are already pushing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from 303 Creative v. Elenis—a case that will have a bearing not just on the future of free speech, but gay rights. The dubious faith group, in which Barrett is said to maintain membership, is known for expelling members who “engage in gay sex” and credible accusations of child sex abuse.

Per a new report from the Guardian, former members of the Indiana-based group have sounded the alarm about Coney Barrett’s ties to People of Praise and their implications on the upcoming legal proceedings: “I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside, especially in a decision like the one coming up,” said Maura Sullivan, a former longtime member of the People of Praise community in South Bend. Barrett, it’s worth remembering, was identified by The Washington Post as a “handmaid,” or, a high-ranking woman, within the devout conservative group.

In 303 Creative v. Elenis, Lorie Smith, a Christian website developer, claims that a Colorado anti-discrimination law infringed on her right to free speech with regard to same-sex unions. Smith states that, despite gay marriage being against her religion, the law has required her to complete projects that are in opposition to her “deeply held beliefs,” as it’s currently unlawful to refuse her services to gay couples. At her 2020 confirmation hearing, Coney Barrett promised that any of her own personal beliefs—religious, and otherwise—wouldn’t compromise her capability to be an unbiased judge. But survivors of the group aren’t convinced she’ll be able to keep her word given the nature of this particular case, and her—largely secretive—allegiance to People of Praise.

“The People of Praise has deeply entrenched, anti-gay values that negatively affect the lives of real people, including vulnerable youth. These values show up in the everyday policies of the People of Praise and their schools. They are policies that are way outside the mainstream, and most Americans would be disturbed by them,” said Kevin Connolly, a former member of the group and the brother of People of Praise’s chief spokesperson, told the Guardian.

Tom Henry, another former member of the group who attended Trinity Schools—the institution that requires children of People of Praise to be students and proudly bars the admission of children of same-sex parents and openly LGBTQ+ teachers—recalled being told he couldn’t draw gay activist and San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk, for a school project as it was “too political.” He also remembered approaching the school’s then-director, now-president, about the parents of a gay child who were interested in enrollment.

“He said there was a policy, and it was basically a public stance that they don’t support gay marriage or people transitioning, and he blatantly said you just tell them that this would not be a good place for them,” Henry said.

The Guardian failed to mention that Smith’s case is being brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the conservative Christian legal advocacy group that masterminded the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi that was at the heart of the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and, ultimately, overturned Roe v. Wade. The ADF also paid Coney Barrett to speak five times at its Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a summer program for law students “meant to inspire a distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law.”

The aforementioned is almost as egregious as the abundance of harms perpetuated by People of Praise, as detailed ad nauseam since 2020. Some examples: a sexual abuse coverup, the expectation of women’s complete subordination, and, as detailed by the Guardian, several estranged and broken families. This, in addition to all of the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policy, of course.

I think it wise to remind folks that, technically speaking, Coney Barrett could recuse herself. Will she? Right now, I am not at all shocked to write that it doesn’t appear likely.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin